Offshore Racing; It’s in the Family

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First time at BVI Spring Regatta for Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II

Returning to the BVI to cruise for the first time in many years, and to race BVI Spring Regatta for the first time aboard Lee Overlay Partners II, his Swan 60, Adrian Lee is looking forward to re-familiarising himself with the area and spending time with his family.

“Many of my crew have recommended BVI Spring Regatta and it’s been talked up by my colleagues who say it’s quite fun!” Lee commented. “My wife and I cruised all around the BVI when we were much younger so we’re going to relive cruising all those fun places like Cooper Island, and Jost Van Dyke where would end up almost too inebriated to get back on the boat from the Soggy Dollar – I’d like to show my kids that mum and dad were a little wild once too!”

Cruising fun aside, Lee, who lives in London, comes from a competitive racing background. He’s been racing offshore since he was twenty, starting with his dad in Irish waters (he was born in Dublin) then in Britain and later the Caribbean when he couldn’t handle the British cold waters anymore, he laughed.

Lee is a die-hard racer who loves nothing more than a solid offshore experience. He’s raced the RORC Caribbean 600 seven times which he won in 2010 in his former boat Lee Overlay Partners I, a Cookson 50. In that boat he also won the Round Ireland race; he’s also raced the Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea Race among other offshore events.

“It was a very successful racing boat and great fun,” Lee smiled. “It brought me to the Caribbean originally and after four or five years with that boat we’d done many of the big international races. I sold it and bought the Swan 60 because I wanted to teach my 19-year-old twins to sail offshore because I love offshore sailing, that’s my DNA – I don’t like going round the cans.”

Lee says the Swan is a more manageable boat which he and his family have been sailing in the Caribbean for the past seven years.

“We do two Caribbean races a year – usually the RORC Caribbean 600 and Antigua Sailing Week,” Lee noted. “The kids have picked it up, my daughter Dasha is a good navigator, and my son Alexander is an all-round water sports person – he wing foils, etc.”

This year Lee had a more important date on the same day as the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 – his oldest daughter was getting married which required that he be on that start line. The family instead decided to race BVI Spring Regatta.

“I guess I needed to make up missing the 600 to myself,” Lee laughed. “The BVI has always been on my radar and it’s just “next door” (the Swan 60 lives in Antigua) so we’re looking forward to it although we’re disappointed there was no space for us at Nanny Cay Marina!”

He’s content to dial back his competitive nature as he teaches the nuances of offshore racing to his kids; he’ll be racing mostly with his family as crew in CSA-1 with a mix of performance boats including the Swan 58 Wavewalker.

“I just like to go sailing, a race is an excuse to get out on the water,” Lee said. “I like the idea of good long coastal races – windward leewards in a 60-foot boat is not so fun – so we’re excited to race the Round Tortola race.”

Back home in England, Lee also owns a twenty-foot Glen OD, a daysailer which he races occasionally.

“It’s a “gentleman’s” boat which keeps me going,” he smiled. “If I can get a couple of the Caribbean regattas each year, that’s good enough for me as I still work full-time, I like my work and can’t take too much more time off than that!”

RORC Caribbean 600 2023 – photo: Tim Wright. Caribbean 600 2023
RORC Caribbean 600 2023 – photo: Tim Wright.